If Australia really wants to help the Venezuelan people, it must urge the US to lift sanctions, rule out military intervention and end coup drive

January 31, 2019 – The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network is calling on the Australian Government to demand the United States lift its sanctions on Venezuela, rule out any military intervention in the South American country and end its coup drive against President Nicolas Maduro if there is to be any hope for a peaceful and democratic solution there.

Federico Fuentes, a, AVSN national co-convenor, said: “It is well known that Venezuela is passing through the worst economic crisis in its history.”

“While focus has been placed on falling international oil prices and economic mismanagement by the Nicolas Maduro government, little attention has been paid to the devastating effect that US sanctions have had in deepening the misery of the Venezuelan people.”

“If we only take the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration in August 2017, which made it illegal for the Venezuelan government to obtain financing from US institutions or individuals, studies clearly indicate that its effects have been to deprived Venezuela of US$6 billion – 5% of the government’s nominal GDP.”

“The biggest effect of these sanctions has been to cripple the Venezuelan state oil company – the country’s main source of income for importing food and medicines.”

“The Trump administration has now announced a new round of sanctions that will see Venezuela lose another US$11 billion in exports this year alone while freezing another US$7 billion in assets.”

“These are criminal actions, of which the biggest victims are the already suffering Venezuelan people.”

Fuentes continued: “On top of this, the Trump administration’s has said it won’t rule out a military intervention in Venezuela and is openly supporting a coup attempt led by Juan Guaido, who has self-proclaimed himself Venezuela’s ‘interim president’.

“These actions have only deepen political turmoil in what is already one of the most polarised countries in the world and are a clear violation of Venezuela’s national sovereignty.”

Turning to the Australian Government, Fuentes said: “By refusing to denounce these actions, and instead going along with them, Australia has squarely placed itself on the side of those urging violence and greater suffering to generate instability for their own political ends.”

“If Australia is serious about playing a positive role in the crisis, it must start by immediately withdrawing its recognition of Guaidó, an unelected and unconstitutional ‘interim president’.

“Instead, it should call on the US to lift its sanctions, end its coup drive and categorically rule out any military involvement in Venezuela,” Mr Fuentes concluded.

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